Los Angeles/2009 Meetings/November 18

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Topic: Watching Software Run


Speaker: Brian Chess

Brian Chess is a founder of Fortify Software and serves as Fortify's Chief Scientist, where his work focuses on practical methods for creating secure systems. His book, Secure Programming with Static Analysis, shows how static source code analysis is an indispensable tool for getting security right. Brian holds a Ph.D. in computer engineering from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he studied the application of static analysis to the problem of finding security-relevant defects in source code. Before settling on security, Brian spent a decade in Silicon Valley working at huge companies and small startups. He has done research on a broad set of topics, ranging from integrated circuit design all the way to delivering software as a service.


Abstract: Watching Software Run

Now more than ever before, computer systems are vulnerable because software is vulnerable. No matter how good programmers get at making secure software, it will never be perfect—we will always have to contend with incomplete or inadequate code. Most efforts at living with bad code have focused on shoring it up from the outside: limiting network access (firewalls) or watching for suspicious behavior (intrusion detection). This talk takes a different perspective: we’ll look at methods for identifying and blunting the effects of software shortcomings from the inside by watching the software run.

Modern languages like Java and C# are good for more than just programmers. They also provide a wealth of structured information when they execute. We can apply many same techniques developed for outside-in security, but at a finer granularity and with much more context. Along the way there is a lot to talk about: Where web application firewalls excel and where they fall down. Fuzzing vs. static analysis. The disappointments of both aspect oriented programming and building security in. Why nobody uses the Java Security model. Taking your security with you into the cloud. The reason SQL injection won’t go away. Revenge of the reference monitor. Why was Twitter’s security so bad?